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ICTY war crimes suspect Seselj demands compensation for trial delays

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] announced Monday that former Serb nationalist politician and war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj [official website, in Serbian; JURIST news archive] is suing ICTY for USD $2.6 million in damages due to alleged unreasonable delays in his trial. The ICTY declined to comment [AP report] on the filings Seselj made earlier this month, in which he charges that the ICTY refused to give him materials in Serbian; denied him communication with family members, doctors, and legal counsel; delayed his trial interminably; and refused him a right to his own, independent counsel. He has also requested special damages for his latest contempt conviction [JURIST report]. Seselj's doctors have also claimed that his health is deteriorating [B92 report], in part due to his treatment by the ICTY. In October, the ICTY ruled that Seselj received all guarantees of due process and fair proceedings available [JURIST report].

Seselj's war crimes trial began [JURIST report] in 2007 after he was charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes and accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict. In July, Seselj alleged that he was being denied "speedy process," as he has been in custody since February 2003, and that the ICTY had denied him the right to defend himself by not fully funding his defense. Seselj made similar claims in 2009 [press release], which were also refuted by the court. His trial was briefly suspended [JURIST report] in 2009 because of concerns witnesses were being intimidated. The trial resumed in 2010 after the delay, and was again ordered to continue in 2011 after Seselj sought to have the charges dismissed [case sheet, PDF]. The trial recently resumed earlier this month, after Seslj's third contempt conviction.

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